ESA Director Wörner Wins National Space Society’s Prestigious von Braun Award

Prof. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 prestigious Wernher von Braun Memorial Award. This award recognizes Wörner as an effective leader of the European Space Agency and the contributions of ESA to the world space community. Prof. Wörner will accept the award on Friday, May 26, 2017 at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). This will be the 36th ISDC® and will be held in St Louis, Missouri at the Union Station Hotel. The conference is open to all and will run from May 25-29, 2017. Prof. Wörner will join other luminaries such as NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier, Gemini and Apollo astronaut Thomas Stafford, space program pioneers MAC’s Old Team, and the Kepler-K2 space mission team.

About the von Braun Award

Von Braun AwardThe von Braun award is given in odd-numbered years to recognize excellence in management of and leadership for a space-related project or effort. The project or effort must be significant and successful and the manager must have the loyalty of a strong team. The award was originally proposed in 1992 by National Space Society Awards Committee member Frederick I. Ordway III, a close associate of and co-author with Wernher von Braun.

As shown to the left, the award consists of a representation of the von Braun “Ferry Rocket” design from the early 1950’s, beside a representation of the actual Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo program. These are set on a base inlaid with black granite and with a brass plaque. The two rocket figures are to scale: one represents the dream, the other—fulfilled reality. This award was created and cast in stainless steel by Michael Hall, a renowned artist, sculptor and foundryman, owner of the Studio Foundry in Driftwood, TX. Recent winners include the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Mars rover) Team, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (former President of India), and Elon Musk. More information about the von Braun award and past recipients can be found on the NSS awards page.

About Prof. Johann-Dietrich Wörner

WornerAs ESA Director General, Prof. Wörner heads one of the world’s leading space organizations. ESA is contributing to the current global effort to explore the solar system via important projects like ExoMars and Rosetta/Philae. ESA is also in cooperation with projects at other space agencies worldwide like the James Webb Space Telescope.

NSS recognizes Prof. Wörner’s great success in leadership, both in academia and in government, and his excellence in mediation. He is now using both skills to support the space community and expedite its goals.

From July 1995 to February 2007, Wörner was the president of the Technical University of Darmstadt. In 2011, the state government of Baden-Wurttemberg appointed him to serve as a mediator for the railroad infrastructure project Stuttgart 21. Before joining ESA, between 2007 and 2015, Prof. Wörner served as Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Centre, DLR, as well as Chairman of the ESA Council from 2012 to 2014. As head of ESA, he is promoting the “Moon village” concept, a vision for global cooperation beyond the International Space Station era. This would be a great asset to an integrated human space program. His support of public-private partnerships as part of the “Space 4.0 approach” aligns with the NSS vision and is supported by NSS.

“MAC’s Old Team” Wins the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award for Special Merit

“MAC’s Old Team,” consisting of former employees of the McDonnell Aircraft, McDonnell-Douglas and Boeing Companies in the St. Louis area, is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Special Merit category. This award recognizes the exemplary work this team did building our nation’s historic Mercury and Gemini spacecraft beginning 59 years ago!

The National Space Society invites the public to join them in presenting the Pioneer Award to MAC’s Old Team on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at the 36th NSS International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). The conference will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel, running from May 25-29, 2017.

Macs Old Team
MAC’s Old Team. Photo taken at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium at the Saint Louis Science Center.

Members of MAC’s Old Team feel privileged to have worked on the Mercury and Gemini programs and are proud of a series of firsts which include:

  • The first American to fly in space
  • The first American to orbit the Earth
  • The first spacecraft to change orbits
  • The first American to perform an EVA
  • The first in-orbit rendezvous between two spacecraft
  • The first docking between two spacecraft
  • The setting of spacecraft flight endurance and altitude records

As historically significant as these achievements may be, however, the team is most proud of the safety record. Over a period of more than five years and sixteen manned flights, nineteen different astronauts flew on Mercury and Gemini missions with durations ranging from fifteen minutes to two weeks without injury or loss of life.

About MAC’s Old Team

Members of this team under McDonnell Aircraft Company worked on the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, which supported, developed and proved the methodology necessary for the Apollo Program to reach the Moon. The company was “ground zero” for America’s first human spaceflight program, flying six Mercury and ten Gemini manned missions for those programs. James S. McDonnell, company founder and CEO, had the foresight to use company funds to carry out original design studies for a manned satellite well before the launch of Sputnik 1 and well before being chosen as a prime contractor, which was announced on February 13, 1959. Beyond designing and building the spacecraft, much of the simulation and training for America’s first astronauts also happened in St. Louis, and those astronauts worked closely with the McDonnell employees.

MAC’s Old Team’s influence on the nation’s space programs did not end with Mercury and Gemini. Team members continued to work on several programs including: Skylab, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, the Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle), the International Space Station, Hexagon, and other NASA, military and company-funded programs.

Why are they called MAC’s Old Team?

“THIS IS MAC CALLING THE TEAM. THIS IS OLD MAC CALLING ALL THE TEAM.” All employees would hear these words over the company PA system announcing special events and introducing visiting dignitaries which included the President of the United States. What could be more fitting to honor Mr. McDonnell’s memory than ‘MAC’s Old Team’?

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at right, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by the greatly respected Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, and the Rosetta Mission Team.

National Space Society Honors NASA’s William H. Gerstenmaier with 2017 Space Pioneer Award

William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC, is the recipient of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Non-Legislative Government Service category.

William GerstenmaierThis award recognizes Mr. Gerstenmaier’s service as Associate Administrator as well as his dynamic career with NASA, which spans 40 years!

The award will be presented on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). This will be the 36th ISDC® and will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel. The conference is open to the public and will run from May 25-29, 2017.

About William Gerstenmaier:

The National Space Society presents this award to outstanding individuals like Mr. Gerstemaier who share our vision to advance humanity’s presence in space. Throughout his career and for many years under his management, Mr. Gerstenmaier has overseen the development and maintenance of the International Space Station – a blueprint for global cooperation off the Earth. Mr. Gerstenmaier’s indelible contributions to space station operations are helping to facilitate the growth of a robust commercial market in low-Earth orbit (LEO) for scientific research, technology development, and human and cargo transportation.

As commercial space companies build on NASA and its partners’ many achievements in LEO, the agency’s human exploration efforts are focused on an ambitious journey to send humans beyond the Moon and farther into space than we have ever traveled. NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, Orion crewed spacecraft, the commercial crew program, and a revitalized space launch complex in Florida were all managed under Mr. Gerstenmaier’s vision and leadership. The best of NASA’s human spaceflight program is yet to come, and that is largely thanks to what Mr. Gerstenmaier and the spaceflight team have done to push the boundaries in space for humans.

Before becoming Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, he has held a series of leadership positions at the agency. These include manager of Space Shuttle Program Integration, head of the Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Operations Office, Director of Space Shuttle and Space Station Freedom Assembly Operations, Chief of the Projects and Facilities Branch of the Flight Design and Dynamics Division, Shuttle/Mir Program Operations Manager, and International Space Station Office Program Manager. Mr. Gerstenmaier earned a Bachelor of Arts in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1977, as well as a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1981 from the University of Toledo.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at right, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by the greatly respected Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, and the Rosetta Mission Team.

The Kepler-K2 Team Wins the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

The NASA Kepler and K2 Team is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Science and Engineering category. This prestigious award will be presented to team representatives Charles K.Sobeck, Project Manager, and Dr. Natalie Batalha, Project Scientist, on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). This will be the 36th ISDC® and will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel. The conference will run from May 25-29, 2017.

Kepler Mission Team

NSS proudly presents this award in recognition of the massive amount of work carried out by the whole team to propose, design, launch and operate the Kepler and K2 missions and to analyze the resulting data over many years. It also recognizes all of the many volunteers who have been poring over the Kepler data to assist in finding planets around other stars.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at right, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by the greatly respected Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, and the Rosetta Mission Team.

About the Kepler-K2 Mission and Team 

After no less than five mission proposals, starting in 1992, the Kepler mission was finally approved in December of 2001 as a Discovery Class mission. Launched on March 7, 2009, the Kepler spacecraft has returned an enormous database, recording the brightness variations of more than 160,000 stars and galaxies. In addition to the primary objective of detecting and characterizing the distribution of terrestrial-size exoplanets, the mission has revolutionized the field of asteroseismology – the study of stars through their intrinsic brightness variability – ushering in a new golden age of stellar astrophysics.

As of January, 2017, Kepler and the follow-on mission K2 have confirmed 2514 actual exoplanets out of 5216 planet candidates. Kepler has made a massive contribution to the ongoing effort to obtain a large statistical sample of exoplanets so that the frequency of each type of planet can be estimated. In addition, it has helped to revolutionize our understanding of what types of exoplanets and exoplanet systems actually exist.

NASA’s Ames Research Center manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. JPL managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Eric Berger Wins the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award for Mass Media

Eric BergerEric Berger, who is the senior space editor at Ars Technica, is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Mass Media category. This award will recognize the exemplary work he has done in the space news field for both Ars Technica, (a major technology news web site), and previously for the Houston Chronicle. It will be presented to him on May 29, 2017 at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference (isdc.nss.org/2017). This will be the 36th ISDC and will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel. The conference will run from May 25-29, 2017.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at right, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by the greatly respected Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, and the Rosetta Mission Team.

About Eric Berger

Eric Berger covers space business, space policy, space technology and other related areas such as astronomy. In the very fast paced field he is covering, his frequent, accurate and detailed articles and series have helped the space community keep track of what is happening, why and what the result may be. He is a good analyst and extrapolator as well as a reporter. He is not afraid to cover controversial topics, and that coverage is often invaluable. His articles are always technically accurate. He has an astronomy degree from the University of Texas, as well as a MA in journalism from the University of Missouri. In addition, he is a certified meteorologist. He lives in Houston, TX.

St. Louis and Space: Site of ISDC 2017

By Gloria Lloyd

Since the International Space Development Conference will be in St. Louis in May, 2017, it is appropriate to learn about the St. Louis connection with space.

“This is a frontier good for millions of years. The only time remotely comparable was when Columbus discovered a whole new world.” – James S. McDonnell in an interview with TIME Magazine, 1967

“Spring break in Ibiza or Miami? I’d rather be in St. Louis, with the future.” – Will.I.Am at the FIRST Robotics World Championships at the Edward Jones Dome, April 26, 2014

The Stealth Bomber - based in Missouri - flies over the Gateway Arch.

St. Louis first became a city of exploration when it was just a river town on the edge of a vast expanse of unknown wilderness, where Lewis and Clark set out to explore the West. So it is fitting that St. Louis has played a key role in both aviation and space history, designing, engineering and manufacturing the planes and spaceships that some of the world’s greatest explorers used to travel around the world – and out of it.

The steel arches of the Eads Bridge. Photo by Gwendolyn Mercer.

St. Louis first secured its spot in engineering history in 1867 when James Eads connected Missouri and Illinois with the world’s first steel bridge, the Eads Bridge (up to that time, steel was not used as a construction material, and no bridges had ever been built across a river as wide as the Mississippi). Skeptics told Eads such a contraption could never work. Andrew Carnegie kicked off the modern steel industry, and America’s Industrial Age, when he saw how difficult it was to get steel to St. Louis to build the bridge. Before the Arch, the Eads Bridge became an iconic symbol of St. Louis, compared to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and called the seventh wonder of the modern world. The bridge is still in use today, for cars, pedestrians andMetroLink light rail trains.

The St. Louis airport, Lambert Field, has a rich history of amazing experimental flights and of innovation – it was a key link in the first transcontinental air-rail service, the first airport with an air traffic control system and housed manufacturing facilities that produced the United States Navy’s first jet fighter – and America’s first spaceship.

Charles Lindbergh and his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis.

Although Charles Lindbergh is undoubtedly the headliner of St. Louis aviation history, the city already had an esteemed list of record-holders even before his flight, including a long-held record for thelongest hot-air balloon flight, set in 1859 by John Wise on a flight between St. Louis and Henderson, N.Y. At the 1904 World’s Fair – thebiggest spectacle the world had ever seen up to that point – aeronauts dazzled spectators with the first-ever public powered flights, of airships. Theodore Roosevelt became the first president to fly here in 1911, and military installation Jefferson Barracks saw the first parachute jump from a plane in 1912.

But it was Lindbergh’s first transatlantic solo flight in 1927 – and the St. Louis spirit that got him there – that changed the course of the 20th century. When Lindbergh wanted to do what no one had done before – fly nonstop across an ocean – it was nine entrepreneurs in St. Louis, where Lindbergh lived and flew airmail flights, who funded his unlikely transatlantic dream. He honored them by naming his plane the Spirit of St. Louis, and he successfully flew between New York and Paris (after a record-setting long-distance stopover in St. Louis) in 1927.

A McDonnell F3H Demon in flight in 1956.

As the headquarters of the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation from its inception in the 1930s, as well as many other aviation companies that formed in the wake of Lindbergh’s successful flight and the resulting aviation mania, St. Louis produced many legendary civilian and military aircraft – including, as one example, the 1929 Curtiss Robin used by “Wrong Way” Corrigan for his famous flight across the Atlantic, and the St. Louis Robin that set a world endurance record.

U.S. astronauts Gordon Cooper (right) and Pete Conrad celebrate after returning from the Gemini 5 mission in 1965.

Even before the Soviet Union launched Sputnikin 1957, James S. McDonnell tasked 45 engineers in St. Louis to start working on the first manned spaceship. That foresight made St. Louis ground zero for America’s first human spaceflight program, Project Mercury, and McDonnellmanufactured 20 space capsules to send the first Americans – and chimpanzees – into space, and much of the simulation and training America’s first astronauts underwent happened in St. Louis. Through the Mercury program, America sent its first man to space, Alan Shepard, and John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth in the Friendship 7 capsule, now on display at the Smithsonian alongside theSpirit of St. Louis.

Mercury astronaut and future Senator John Glenn in orbit on the Friendship 7.

“It is essential that the United States be first, and I can imagine no action, no adventure, which is more essential and more exciting.” – President John F. Kennedy, in remarks to McDonnell employees working on America’s first spaceship following his visit to St. Louis to see the Mercury space capsule in September 1962.

“At the president’s departure, he stated that he was greatly impressed by what he saw in St. Louis.” – newscaster in historic newsreel footage, recounting Kennedy’s visit.

NASA’s follow-up program, Project Gemini, saw the second American in space, astronaut Gus Grissom, arrive in St. Louis to assist McDonnell engineers in building their next spaceship. Gemini astronauts spent time in St. Louis at McDonnell on training simulators for their missions.

Gemini 6 in space, as seen from Gemini 7 during their rendezvous.

In all, 10 manned Gemini capsules were made in St. Louis and launched from Cape Canaveral in 1965 and 1966 as a runup to the Apollo program, which had the lofty goal of landing Americans on the Moon by the end of the 1960s. Gemini astronauts took some of the first spacewalks, stayed in the spacecraft long enough to reach the Moon and perfected rendezvous and docking in preparation for the eventual Moon landing.

Route-66-CruisinDuring the successes of the Gemini program and just past the heyday of Route 66 – when a generation of travelers traveled to St. Louis to “get their kicks” on the Mother Road – the Gateway Arch was erected on the downtown riverfront, serving as the city’s foremost symbol of its status as the Gateway to the West. It is America’s largest man-made monument.

Although NASA’s space shuttles were not entirely manufactured in St. Louis like their spaceship predecessors had been, Space Shuttle Enterprise at Lambert FieldSt. Louisplayed an important role in the space shuttle program. NASA later noted that native St. Louisan and McDonnell Douglas engineer John Yardley, who helped design and develop the shuttle while at McDonnell and then headed the entire program for NASA, was “as responsible as any individual for getting the Space Shuttle program off the ground.” McDonnell Douglas also manufactured the aft propulsion pods that helped the shuttle get into orbit and turn once it reached space. As a mark of appreciation for McDonnell Douglas’s impact on the space shuttle program, NASA flew the first space shuttle, theEnterpise prototype, to St. Louis. Today, the most storied of the space shuttles,Discovery, is housed at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in the James S. McDonnell Hangar, a fitting nod to McDonnell’s enduring and continuing contributions to America’s space program.

St. Louis astronaut Bob Behnken returns from one of his many spacewalks.

Nine current or former astronauts were born in, raised or went to school in Missouri, including Eileen Collins, the first female spaceship commander. McDonnell Douglas engineer Charlie Walker was the first non-government astronaut to fly in space, during the space shuttle program. Sandra Magnus, from St. Louis suburb Belleville, Ill., flew on the final space shuttle flight in 2011. Dick Richards flew four space shuttle flights. Tom Akers flew four space shuttle flights, including the maiden flight of Endeavour, and is now a professor at nearby Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla,STS-135_Official_Crew_PhotoMo. Other Missouri and Illinois native astronauts include active astronaut Bob Behnken of St. Ann, who has flown in space twice and is currently the Chief Astronaut, Janet Kavandi, who is active and has flown on three space shuttle flights, Linda Godwin andSteven Nagel, who are married and both now professors at the University of Missouri at Columbia,Scott Altman of central Illinois and Michael Hopkins, who recently returned from the International Space Station, after tweeting a picture of St. Louis from space.

First commercial astronaut Mike Melvill after piloting his spaceplane to X-Prize victory.

Since St. Louis was at the forefront of aviation and America’s space program, it comes as no surprise that it has also played a key role in the emergence of commercial spaceflight. In 2004, at a ceremony held at the St. Louis Science Center, the St. Louis-based X-Prize Foundation awardedits $10 million Ansari X-Prize to SpaceShipOnefor the first successful private spaceflight.

Today, St. Louis continues its longtime legacy of exploration as an aerospace hub, serving as the headquarters of Boeing’s $33 billion Defense, Space and Security Division, with 58,000 employees worldwide – a combined division of the company that emerged after the 1997 merger of Boeing, then based in Seattle and the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, with St. Louis-based McDonnell Douglas, then the world’s second-largest aircraft manufacturer. The combined company now gets 45 percent of all American military contracts and designs and engineers and manufactures some of the most sophisticated aircraft ever seen.

The Blue Angels fly F-18 Hornets, made in St. Louis.

Three military jets, the F-15 Eagle, the E-18 Growler and the F-18 Hornet, are manufactured in St. Louis, and military operations and logistics around the world are commanded from the Department of Defense’s mobility and transportation hub at Scott Air Force Base. St. Louis is also home to Boeing Phantom Works, which is Boeing’s cutting-edge, classified military technology prototyping division and manufactures cutting-edge aircraft in St. Louis under a veil of secrecy.

After the retirement of the space shuttle and completion of the International Space Station, NASA’s focus has turned to commercial spaceflight to take cargo and supplies to the astronauts that are now a permanent presence on the space station, with an eye toward moving out of low-earth orbit to land humans on an asteroid and then Mars. During this transition, St. Louis still remains at the forefront of space: Boeing engineers in St. Louis are designing and building parts of Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) capsule that, along with SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaserspaceplane, is one of NASA’s top contenders to ferry America’s astronauts to space for the Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s new commercial spaceflight program and partnership.

Rendering of Boeing's CST-100 in space.

Meanwhile, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have taken the lead scientific roles in the Mars Opportunity rover mission, and many scientists right here in St. Louis are currentlyconducting groundbreaking scientific research on Mars in collaboration with Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars Curiosity rover mission.

The Mars Curiosity Rover takes a self-portrait from Mars.

Oh, and did we mention that Apollo 13 flight director Gene Kranz (“Failure Is Not an Option”), graduated from St. Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology? In addition to Washington University (which has had 22 Nobel Laureates) and SLU, St. Louis is a university town where many colleges and universities are currently training future stars of space and science, even before the debut of a newly-formed aerospace consortium among community colleges and universities. Every day, children take field trips and simulate missions to space at the St. LouisChallenger Learning Center. St. Louis also hosts the FIRST Robotics World Championships every year – where teams of the world’s smartest high school students work together to build robots to compete in a challenge that changes every year.

The view from Apollo 13, whose flight director Gene Kranz graduated from St. Louis University.

St. Louisans continue to witness aviation history – in 2013, the first solar-powered airplane, Solar Impulse, stopped in St. Louis on its first cross-country flight to follow in Lindbergh’s footsteps (watch it land at Lambert Field in a time-lapse video here). And on the silver screen, the plane-themed movie Up in the Air filmed in St. Louis.

St. Louis's space-themed hotel, the Moonrise.

Since St. Louis has played – and plays – such an esteemed role in America’s space program, it is fitting that one of the world’s few – if not only- space-themed hotels can be found right here on the world-famous Delmar Loop: the Moonrise Hotel, built by local developer (and space enthusiast) Joe Edwards. Appropriately for St. Louis, the Moonrise’s rooftop bar features the world’s largest man-made moon, eight feet in diameter.

Visitors to St. Louis have the opportunity to see some of the city’s space history through exhibits on display at the St. Louis Science Center and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, one of the premier facilities in the country for space education. A Mercury and Gemini capsule manufactured in St. Louis (like all Mercury and Gemini capsules were) are on display at the Science Center and planetarium, which are connected by a skybridge over Interstate 64.

Exploration buffs can also find the replica Spirit of St. Louis used in the movie about Lindbergh’s flight hanging from the ceiling at the Missouri History Museum, also in Forest Park. At times, the History Museum has extensiveCharles Lindbergh exhibits, since Lindbergh chose to donate his papers, artifacts and memorabilia from his storied career in aviation to the museum. The museum also features many St. Louis aviation artifacts and special exhibits.

Missouri History Museum's Spirit of St. Louis replica, used in the movie.

The Creve Coeur Spirit of St. Louis Airport hosts a museum that displays one of the largest collections of vintage aircraft in the country. The Boeing Prologue Room is a museum of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing history that is open to the public in the summer.

The Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum features many McDonnell Douglas aircraft and is located in a historic hangar at the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Ill., which was a stop of almost all the notable early aviators, including Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.

One of Lindbergh’s iconic planes – donated by Lindbergh himself – hangs in the terminal at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

St. Louis Union Station Hotel: Home of ISDC® 2017

by Christine Nobbe, EdS, NBCT
ISDC® 2017 Conference Chair

St. Louis Union Station Hotel, “the grandest station in the Nation,” is the chosen site for the 2017 International Space Development Conference® because of its historic significance, beauty, and convenient location. The St. Louis Union Station website explains the historic significance:

image02“St. Louis Union Station, once the largest and busiest passenger rail terminal in the world, is now one of America’s great historic destinations. Union Station first opened in 1894, but ceased operation as an active train terminal in 1978. Union Station reopened in August of 1985 as the largest adaptive re-use project in the United States. Today, this 122 year-old National Historic Landmark of unmatched beauty and elegance is home to the 539-room St. Louis Union Station Hotel – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, a conference center, shops and restaurants, a lake and plaza for festivals, concerts and other special events. And, of course, the stunning Grand Hall is a destination in its own rite.”

For those who “geek out” on railroad history or architecture, St. Louis Union Station is a treasure trove. The website states, “St. Louis architect and former railroader, Theodore C. Link, designed three main areas: the Headhouse, the Midway, and the Train Shed. The Headhouse contained the Terminal Hotel, ticket offices, waiting rooms, a restaurant, and offices for the Pullman and Terminal Railroad Association Companies. The Midway was the covered transfer area for passengers [and will be the ISDC Exhibit Midway]. The Train Shed was a large, roofed area covering the loading platforms and track.

image00On September 1, 1894 St. Louis Union Station opened as the largest, most beautiful terminal in the United States. This enormous project was built at the cost of $6.5 million. The gem of this new Station was the Grand Hall with its gold leaf, Romanesque arches, 65-foot barrel vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows. The most magnificent of these stained glass windows is the ‘Allegorical Window’ which is majestically framed by the famous ‘Whispering Arch.’  

image01Just beyond the Head house was the Midway, which was the midway point where friends bid farewell or welcomed home visitors from across the nation and around the world. In its heyday (as shown in image) in the mid 1940’s, the Midway was the spot where over 100,000 passengers a day traversed on their way to or from a train. The platform area was covered by an enormous single-span train shed designed by George H. Pegram [now called the Pegram Room]. This was not only one of the largest train sheds ever built, but it also covered the greatest number of tracks. After World War II, the general public began choosing other forms of transportation. In 1976, this magnificent station was designated a National Historic Landmark. Finally, on October 31, 1978, the last train pulled out of St. Louis Union Station.”

image03NSS and St. Louis Space Frontier are delighted to host the International Space Development Conference® at Union Station May 25-29, 2017. It’s a bit too early to make your room reservations at the hotel, but you can register for the conference now! Visit ISDC.nss.org/2017 to register at the very reasonable early bird prices.

References:

St. Louis Union Station Image: Dustin Batt (Wikipedia)

The Grand Hall image: Wikipedia

The Midway image: Charles O’Rear, 1941-, Photographer (NARA record: 3403717) Record creator – Environmental Protection Agency. (12/02/1970 – )

Information about St. Louis Union Station: www.stlouisunionstation.com

Find Your Spirit of Exploration and Discovery postcard: Maggie Duckworth, 2016

Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Station_(St._Louis)

Program Manager Pete Worden to Present Interstellar Mission at International Space Development Conference

Pete Worden, former director of NASA Ames Research Center, will present “Starshot, Mission to Alpha Centauri,” at the Thursday (May 19) luncheon during the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference®. NSS Governor Janet Ivey will emcee the luncheon which also features the presentation of the Heinlein award to Dr. Jerry Pournelle. Rich Pournelle of Nanoracks will receive the award for his father. The conference is open to the public and is set for May 18-22, 2016 at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled nanocrafts. These could fly at 20 percent of light speed and capture images of possible planets and other scientific data in our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, just over 20 years after their launch.

The program will be led by Pete Worden, the former director of NASA AMES Research Center, and advised by a committee of world-class scientists and engineers. The board will consist of Stephen Hawking, Yuri Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg.

ISDC is the yearly conference of the National Space Society, a non-profit organization that has hosted the gathering since 1982. The event brings together leading managers, engineers, scientists, educators, and business people from civilian, military, commercial, entrepreneurial, and grassroots advocacy space sectors.

Online registration is currently open with a variety of options, from single-day registration passes to full conference registration with meals. Discounts are provided for youth, full-time students, seniors, and members of the National Space Society and its affiliates.

“We would like to invite local attendees interested in space to the annual conference of the world’s premier space public interest group,” stated Aggie Kobrin, the conference organizer and NSS board member.

For more information, visit http://isdc2016.nss.org.

SpaceX to Receive the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

Josh BrostSpaceX is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering. This award recognizes the company’s recent major achievement, the historic first landing of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec 21, 2015, which was a major step toward fulfilling one of the major “holy grail” quests of the space community – reusability. This flight marked the first successful vertical landing by a large first-stage rocket, which reached space and whose second stage carried a payload into orbit. Creating reusable rockets is a fundamental requirement for spaceflight to be inexpensive enough for general and large-scale use. Josh Brost, Director of Government Business Development at SpaceX, will accept the award in the name of SpaceX on May 20 at the National Space Society’s 2016 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2016). This will be the 35th ISDC and will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino. The conference, open to the public, will run from May 18-22, 2016.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at right, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by the greatly respected Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, citizen astronaut Anousheh Ansari, Dr. Kip Thorne, and the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission team.

About SpaceX

SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. Today, SpaceX is advancing the boundaries of space technology through its Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft.

International/U.S. Students and Teachers Head to Puerto Rico for International Space Development Conference

Hundreds of students and teachers from the United States and countries across the globe will converge in Puerto Rico next month for the National Space Society’s (NSS) 35th annual International Space Development Conference® (ISDC) to celebrate and engage people in the goal of space settlement. The event is set for May 18-22, 2016 at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Students attending the conference, grades 6-12, will be sharing their imaginative ideas about how people will be living and working in space. They are attending the conference as a result of their participation in this year’s NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest, co-sponsored by the National Space Society and NASA Ames Research Center. The contest challenges students to design a space settlement, which must realistically address concerns such as atmosphere, food, gravity, radiation shielding, energy production, and recreation for human space colonists.

“The students attending the ISDC are so passionate and excited to be there to share their ideas and projects. There is so much to learn from them, their cultures, and creative insights,” said Lynne F. Zielinski, NSS vice president of public affairs and chair of NSS’ education and outreach committee. “We are always dazzled by their insightful and futuristic designs. Their enthusiasm is infectious and gives us all hope that we will soon be living and working in space ourselves. These students are the ones to take us there.”

Project Divinity Team

Each year, NSS invites contest participants to attend the organization’s ISDC. Throughout the conference, students will provide oral presentations about their space settlement designs, along with colorful artwork related to the contest. The NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest’s Grand Prize winner, Project Divinity team, will receive the $5,000 NSS Bruce M. Clark, Jr. Memorial Scholarship.

The Project Divinity team is comprised of five students, SeungHyeon Do (Kongju High School, grade 12), JaeHun Jang (Korea Science Academy, 12), DongHyun Kim (Korea Science Academy, 12), YongSung Park (GwangJu Munsung High High School, 11), HwanSung Jang (Korean Minjok Leadership Academy, 11) under the mentorship of KangSan Kim, from Incheon, Republic of Korea (South Korea). (www.nss.org/settlement/nasa/Contest/Results/2016/ProjectDivinity.pdf).

“Project Divinity is a space settlement for 10,000 individuals situated in the Equatorial Low Earth Orbit (ELEO), 500 km altitude above the equator. It is built in the near future where space tourism, coupled with commercial development of launch vehicles, provides enough incentives for primitive forms of space industry to grow. Project Divinity describes how the Divinity space settlement and its neighboring facilities can become the foundation for a new market for outer space.”

This year’s competition received 996 entries from 4,017 students. Entries came from 23 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, England, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea (So.Korea), Romania, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela. U.S. entries were received from 15 states and territories: California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

ISDC is the yearly conference of the National Space Society, a non-profit organization that has hosted the gathering since 1982. The event brings together leading managers, engineers, scientists, educators, and business people from civilian, military, commercial, entrepreneurial, and grassroots advocacy space sectors.

Online registration is currently open with a variety of options, from single-day registration passes to full conference registration with meals. Discounts are provided for youth, full-time students, seniors, and members of the National Space Society and its affiliates.

“We would like to invite local attendees interested in space to the annual conference of the world’s premier space public interest group,” stated Aggie Kobrin, the conference organizer and NSS board member. “Kids today are somewhat lacking in inspiration to pursue STEM fields and this conference is making giant strides to solve this problem.”

For more information, visit isdc2016.nss.org.